Ten ICE agents have filed suit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claiming recent directives are forcing them to break the law and ignore their duties when it comes to deporting illegal immigrants. Thursday’s lawsuit filed in a Texas federal court by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, challenges recent directives allowing some illegal immigrants — particularly non-felons and those who came to the U.S. as children — to stay and, in some cases, get work permits.
The suit, obtained by Fox News, says the agents are being forced to “violate federal law.” It says the new directive “unconstitutionally usurps and encroaches upon the legislative powers of Congress.” ICE Director John Morton is also named as a defendant. Fox News
The lead attorney for the case, Kris Kobach equated the move to give thousands of illegal immigrants a reprieve to the failed Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.
“In both instances, the Obama administration ordered federal law enforcement agents to break the law, to ignore the laws that they’re supposed to enforce, and, in the case of the ICE agents, to actually break federal laws that say you’re supposed to deport certain people,” he said. “And in each case, the Obama administration seems to be doing so for political reasons.” Fox News
Kobach is the Kansas attorney who helped draft the Arizona law, SB 1070, and is also an advisor to Mitt romney.
DHS spokesman Matt Chandler, reacting to the suit, stressed that the current policy allows the department to focus on serious offenders — he said ICE removed a record 216,000 criminal aliens in fiscal 2011.
“DHS uses prosecutorial discretion to assist in focusing vigorously on the removal of individuals who are convicted criminals, repeat immigration law violators, and recent border crossers,” he said. “This policy is a temporary measure; Congress must still act to provide a permanent solution to fix the broken immigration system.”
Of course, Napolitano defended the amnesty decision, last month before the House Judiciary Committee. The Supreme Court has recognized the ability of the federal government to use what’s known as “prosecutorial discretion” in the enforcement of immigration law. In the recent case over the Arizona immigration law, the court defended the government’s ability to make “some discretionary decisions.”
In the lawsuit, the agents are asking a federal judge to block the directives in question, saying they amount to an end-run around Congress and violate the separation of powers between the Legislative and Executive branches. Also on Thursday, Republicans released a flurry of statements in favor of the lawsuit.
This also prompted comments from Sen. Jeff Sessions and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, both who said, “The Obama administration’s amnesty program not only rewards lawbreakers, it also forces ICE agents to violate federal law. ICE agents should enforce our immigration laws and apprehend illegal immigrants. But the Obama administration makes it impossible for ICE agents to do their jobs,” and “It is a sad day when our nation’s law enforcement officers are left with no recourse but to file suit against the administration and its political appointees,” according to Sessions.